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Lopburi features continuously and extensively in Thai history, with evidence of habitation in the area stretching back over 3,000 years to prehistoric times. Indeed, many archeological sites, containing artifacts and skeletons, have been found and excavated in the province. During the Dvaravati Period (7th century AD) Lopburi was known as Lavo. At that time the Lavo region was estuarine, making it a convenient trading post for foreign merchants. This factor influenced the growth of the city of Lavo as a communication hub and a highly-developed Chao Phraya River Basin civilization. The town of Lavo underwent major changes during the reign of King Narai the Great of Ayutthaya: the king ordered the construction of a Royal Palace at Lavo and the renovation of the ancient town as a new city for his personal residence, where he could give audience to foreign diplomatic missions. King Narai also ordered the name of the city to be changed from Lavo to “Lopburi”, by which it has been known down to the present day.

Another change occurred during the Rattanakosin Era when Field Marshal P. Piboonsongkram, the then Prime Minister of Thailand, ordered the establishment of military bases in Lopburi Province, resulting in an explosion in its population. Field Marshal P. Piboonsongkram’s policy of nation-building paved way for changes as the country assimilated Western culture. This is illustrated in Lopburi’s buildings and houses of the time, which clearly reflect elements of European architectural styles. It should also be mentioned that Lopburi is the only province outside Bangkok that has trams operating in the city.

Tourist Attractions

Talking of Lopburi, the first thing that comes to mind is the Khmer-style prasart (sanctuary) of Phra Prang Sam Yod, the symbol of the province situated right in the heart of Lopburi city. There are many other archeological sites in the city, such as Prang Khaek (Shiva’s Shrine), another Khmer-style prasart similar to Phra Prang Sam Yod. Two more ancient temples located along the railway are Wat Phra Sri Ratana Maha Tat and Wat Nakhon Kosa. Another of the province’s ancient sites that is worth a visit to admire the elegance of days gone by is King Narai’s Palace, constructed on the orders of the king himself. Also of note is Wichayen House, the European-style residence that King Narai ordered to be built for Constantine Phaulkon, a Greek nobleman who served the Siamese Royal Court. Today, some parts of the house have been renovated and have been integrated into the King Narai National Museum. Additionally walking at leisure around the city results in chance encounters with a host of archeological sites, blending in with local buildings of a more modern provenance and just waiting to be discovered by tourists curious about Lopburi’s history.

Lopburi’s charms, however, are not limited to being a city of antiquity: many natural attractions are also a draw for tourists. These include the Wang Ken Lueang Waterfall, where refreshingly cool water flows throughout the year. For those energetic enough to follow a nature trail, the Sap Langka Wildlife Sanctuary preserves a fertile and pristine environment. Other places for enjoyment and relaxation include the Huay Sap Lek Reservior and Pa Sak Jolasid Dam at Phattana Nikhom District. Nearby one can visit and enjoy the many photogenic Sunflower Fields.